Senior receiver talks about how he's mentoring his younger position mates like others did before him. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Not so quietly, senior receiver Grant Perry is making certain everyone is aware he is big presence among Michigan’s receivers.
While younger receivers Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Oliver Martin garner a great deal of attention, steady veteran Perry is beginning to flex his muscles as the leader in the receivers room.
Perry played with an ankle injury late last season and finished with 307 yards and a touchdowns on 25 catches. He has 618 receiving yards on 52 receptions and scored three touchdowns during his Michigan career. He said he was 100-percent healthy as the team went through winter conditioning.
“It’s going really well,” Perry said Friday night after practice. “Making some plays. Feeling healthy. Free mind. Really getting the playbook down and helping the other guys as well.”
To help the younger receivers, he has become more vocal on and off the field.
“I just take it upon myself every day to try to set a good example for these guys,” Perry said. “There are times I could rest my head and fall asleep in meetings. But I stay awake, stay alert, just knowing my duty as well.
"On the field, I help guys get lined up just knowing the plays. When I was a freshman, (Amara) Darboh and Jehu (Chesson) did that to me, so when I’m gone, I want those guys to be setting the standard so those guys can lead the guys after. Just kind of setting a trend.”
Evidence of Perry’s increased vocal leadership was snagged on camera during practice Thursday. Michigan has started using helmet-cams this season, with a small camera placed near the chin. They’re used throughout the team.
“I got some good audio clips being vocal,” said Perry, who watched the helmet-cam clips on Friday. “(The helmet video) is good for, if I’ve got to run out to the right side, I’m saying, ‘I’m on the ball, I’m off the ball.’ The coach gets to see if I’m helping other receivers. It’s not so much to see how you did on that play but to see what you’re saying.
“It’s a different angle. They get to hear what you’re saying, if you’re being vocal, if you’re helping the guy outside get lined up or not. Little things like that you can’t hear or pick up from the high cameras.”
Perry, who said he became fully healthy during winter conditioning, said the position group has shown improvement under the watch of receivers coach Jim McElwain, Florida’s head coach last year, who is coaching the Wolverines receivers along with graduate assistant Roy Roundtree, a former Michigan receiver.
“Coach Mac is an older coach,” Perry said. “Last year we had coach Pep (Hamilton) who was also working with quarterbacks and (Joe) Hastings (now receivers coach at Indiana State), a younger guy. It’s nice to have someone that’s been around, that’s coached touted receivers in the country playing in the NFL now. He definitely knows what he’s talking about and it’s paying off for us.”
With a dedicated receivers coach, Perry said the improvement overall has been generous.
“We’ve definitely made strides in the playbook,” Perry said. “Guys are playing more confident, playing all around the field, not just one position. Coach McElwain has instilled a lot of good tutelage he’s brought along. He’s taught us some things we didn’t know, just some simple things we were overlooking. The camaraderie in the receiver room has improved, as well.”
What kinds of things were the receivers overlooking?
“Guys are so focused on making the big play, and we miss a block,” he said. “Or run the right route at the right depth and not worry about what the DB is doing. We’re slowing down. We’re playing our game, and it’s looking good on film.”